Part 4: experimental instrument exposé – Glass Armonica


In 1761 Benjamin Franklin attended a  musical recital of water tuned wineglasses by a friend named Delval.  Enchanted by what he heard Franklin set out to make ‘a more convenient’ arrangement of the instrument.  Initially dubbing his new creation  the ‘glassychord’, Franklin soon settled on ‘armonica’ after the Italian word ‘armonia’ or Harmony.  Both Mozart and Beethoven wrote pieces for the Armonica with some 200 pieces of various authors surviving from that era.

Feb 26 1763 Benjamin Franklin writes his friend Cadwallader Colden about his new instrument:

While in England, after my chief Business was over, I amus’d myself, with contriving and bringing to a considerable Degree of Perfection, a new musical Instrument, which has afforded me and my Friends a great deal of Pleasure; but the Description of it would make this Letter, already too long, much longer….